Smartphones are leading the growth of the Western European mobile phone market with Android fast becoming the operating system of choice, according to a report by IDC European Mobile Phone Tracker.
The mobile phone market in Western Europe grew 3.2% year on year to 58.7 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010, with smartphone shipments representing 44% of the total.
Meanwhile, Android grew 1580% year on year to 7.9 million units from 470,000 a year ago. Apple’s iOS increased 66% in Q4 2010 compared to Q3 2009, driven by iPhone 4 shipments.
Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 also showed strong growth, increasing 18% year on year and 100% sequentially.
The report said the growth was limited with the OS launch restricted to English only, but despite this the operating system received positive feedback from operators and end-users.
Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research manager at IDC, said: ‘The last quarter of 2010 clearly shows the trends for the coming years in Western Europe. The Western European mobile phone market will be dominated by smartphones and Android will be the king of the hill.’
He added: ‘Android surged from 4% to 31% market share in less than a year to become the market leader in 4Q10 and the fastest growing operating system ever. IDC estimates at that Android will grow at a 37% compound annual growth rate between 2010 and 2015 in Western Europe, overtaking the overall market growth in the period and that of its direct competitor, the iOS from Apple.
He said the recent alliance forged between Nokia and Microsoft will create opportunities for other operating systems to exploit the transition period between Symbian and Windows Phone 7.
‘Android and iOS will fiercely compete to attract all current Symbian users as they will need to migrate to another platform in the future,’ Jeronimo predicted.
The report added that Nokia shipments dropped 11% year on year to 19.6 million units, while its market share slipped to 33% in Q4 2010 from 39% in Q4 2009.
It attributes the decline in part to the 22% fall in feature phones and the underperformance of the company’s smartphones, despite positive sales from its flagship N8 smartphone.
Samsung performed well in the smartphone arena with the Galaxy S a top seller in most countries and a direct competitor to the iPhone 4, but the decline in feature phone sales meant total shipments fell 2% from the previous year but rose 13% sequentially.
Apple continued its grip on the market despite the 66% year on year growth in shipments, with the iPhone 4 the top seller for most European operators backed by strong advertising and marketing campaigns.
Sony Ericsson saw shipments falling 15% year on year, despite the 3,121% growth in its Android smartphones.